Science

Coronavirus latest: Paris offers tests for 1.3 million citizens

  • Germany will provide €500 million in total this year to the WHO, says health minster
  • German President Frank Walter Steinmeier warns the country is “on very thin ice”
  • Testing in Pakistan has dropped by around third, despite warnings
  • More than 9.3 million confirmed cases globally, with over 481,000 deaths recorded

All updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)

12:00 Iran’s death toll has crossed 10,000. The grim milestone was reached after the country announced 134 deaths in the past 24 hours.

The Islamic republic has struggled to contain the spread of the virus since it reported its first cases in the Shiite holy city of Qom in late February.

Official figures have shown a rising trajectory of new infections since early May, but official deny the upward trend amounts to a second wave.

Hospital admissions were highest in the provinces of Bushehr, Hormozgan, Kermanshah, Khuzestan and Kurdistan, while they were increasing in Tehran and Fars, said health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari.

11:45 Thousands of people in the UK who were transferred onto its test-and-trace system after receiving a positive result could not be reached, the country’s Department of Health announced.

Of 6,923 people who had their case transferred to the contact tracing system in its third week of operation, 1,791 of them could not be reached. There were no contact details provided for a further 263 people.

Those who test positive are contacted and asked to self-isolate.

11:15 Germany will provide the World Health Organization with €500 million ($560 million) in total this year, said German Health Minister Jens Spahn, during a visit to Geneva, Switzerland. 

“This is the highest contribution that Germany has given the WHO in any one year,” said Spahn.

The contribution should be seen as a strong symbol of international solidarity, added Spahn.

Germany plans to give an extra €200 million to the WHO to help it combat the coronavirus pandemic. This is on top of the €110 million already pledged by Germany. This additional sum still needs to obtain parliamentary approval, yet Spahn is confident this would pass.

A further €41 million will go towards the main goals of the WHO. Germany will also provide masks and medical equipment, such as ventilators, for WHO use.

France is providing €90 million to a WHO research center in the city of Lyon, as well as an additional €50 million.

“I truly believe the world needs, more than ever, a multilateral organisation,” French Health Minister Olivier Veran said at the news conference. “I believe the world cannot get rid of partners. We need a global answer [to COVID-19] and only the WHO can provide that answer.”

10:30 Germany is still on “very, very thin ice” when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic, warned German President Frank Walter Steinmeier during an event at Bellevue castle in Berlin.

This has been shown in the recent development of new virus hotspots, said Steinmeier.

Authorities are working to contain an outbreak stemming from an meat processing plant in the town of Gütersloh, where around 1,300 people have been infected.

“The coronavirus pandemic is not yet over,” added Steinmeier, cautioning against reckless behavior.

German president frank Walter Steinmeier sits outside at a table with his wife

Germany’s President cautioned the coronavirus pandemic was “not yet over,” during a coffee table meeting in Berlin

10:05 Indonesia’s coronavirus cases have surpassed 50,000, after it reported 1,178 new cases.

The country’s testing campaign has contributed to the spike in figures, said Achmad Yurianto, the spokesman for the National COVID-19 Task Force. Testing capacity in the country has averaged close to the government’s daily target of 20,000 over the past week said Yurianto.

Experts remain skeptical over the government’s ability to conduct enough tests to determine the true scope of the virus. The Southeast Asian nation is home to more than 270 million people living on thousands of islands.

09:45 The US secret service has quarantined dozens of its employees who were sent to US Presidents Donald Trump’s controversial Tulsa rally, as a precaution, reported US media outlets.

The mass quarantine has led to the decision that secret service agents involved in presidential trips must be tested in the upcoming weeks, said US broadcaster CNN, citing an email sent to agency personnel.

The secret service has not provided the number in order to shield its “operative security,” reported US national newspaper the Washington Post.

Around 19,200 people attended the rally, down from the turnout of nearly million predicted by organizers.

09:18 Budget airline easyJet will resume flights on international routes between Paris, Milan and Barcelona from Britain on July 1.

The airline began operating a small number of mainly domestic flights last week. It is aiming to resume flying on 75% of its routes by August, at lower frequencies than usual and with extra safety measures in place.

09:00 France is offering tests to nearly 1.3 million people to root out virus clusters in the Paris region, Health Minister Olivier Veran told French newspaper Le Monde.

“The aim is to identify any sleeping clusters, that’s to say invisible concentrations of asymptomatic people,” said Veran.

Health authorities will send out coupons that people can exchange for a test.

France is re-stocking medical supplies in anticipation of a second infection wave. Authorities are making plans to be able to treat 30,000 people in intensive care if necessary, added Veran.

So far, the outbreak has killed more than 30,000 people in the country. At its peak, there were more than 7,000 people at once in intensive care in France — this is now down to around 700.

08:50 Testing in Pakistan has dropped by around a third, even as the World Health Organization (WHO) urged its government to step up its testing program.

The 21,835 tests conducted in the last 24 hours until Thursday morning was down nearly 10,000 from a high of more than 31,000 tests — just less than one week ago.

As a result of reduced testing, the country is reporting lower daily infection numbers.

In a letter to the government earlier this month, the WHO said Pakistan should increase its testing to 50,000 daily, while urging the government to tighten its lockdown.

08:25 World-famous landmark the Eiffel Tower has reopened for the first time since France imposed its coronavirus lockdown in March.

Tourists hoping to visit will have to make the steep climb up the tower by stairs, as elevators will remain closed to ensure social distancing guidelines are met. Only the first two levels have reopened with the top level due to reopen later this summer.

Man pushes bicycle next to Eifel tower

The Eifel tower has reopened for the first time since March

08:15 Thousands of migrants are suing German migration authorities for pressing pause on the asylum claims time-limit during the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the so-called Dublin rule, asylum claims must be handled by the country where migrants first entered the EU. However asylum seekers can no longer be sent back to the country of first entry once they have spent six months in another EU country.

Germany suspended these transfers in March due to the coronavirus pandemic and only resumed them in mid-June. The country also suspended the six-month deadline.

But the European Commission made clear in April that the six-month asylum claim period would still apply during the pandemic.

In early June, 9,300 lawsuits against the BAMF decision to pause asylum time limits were still pending.

Luise Amtsberg, Green party spokeswoman for refugee policy, sharply criticized the actions of the Interior Ministry.

It was “bureaucratic madness” that people must take legal action regarding their own transfers.

07:32 The European Commission’s competition authorities have approved the German government’s Lufthansa-rescue package. The approval comes with the condition that Germany’s largest airline company ensures there is no unfair competition, said Brussels authorities.

Europe’s second-largest airlines has experienced severe financial fallout from travel bans put in place around the globe to slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. Around 95% of Lufthansa’s fleet is currently grounded.

In May, the airline group agreed with the German government a bailout worth €9 billion ($9.9 billion) in exchange for giving the government a 20% stake in the company.

Read more: Lufthansa and German government agree bailout

07:15 Between 120,000 and 130,000 jobs have been lost in Hungary due to the virus-imposed lockdown, according to government statistics.

The damage to the job market was not as bad as feared, said Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office Gergely Gulyas.

06.50 Measures introduced to stem the coronavirus pandemic pose a threat to human and political rights, Nobel laureates and other prominent figures and groups are warning in an open letter.

“Democracy is under threat,” the authors of the letter wrote, adding that “even some democratically elected governments” were using emergency powers that restrict human rights and enhance mass surveillance.

A total of 13 Nobel laureates, including 1983 peace prize laureate Lech Walesa of Poland, and Belarusian author and investigative journalist Svetlana Alexievich, who was awarded the 2015 Nobel literature prize, are among the letter’s 500 signatories.

Hong Kong’s prominent pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong also added his name.

The Stockholm-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) initiated the letter with the aim of raising awareness and mobilizing citizens.

06:15 Russian business leaders have requested the EU relax its coronavirus travel restrictions for Russian business people.

“It is now time that Germany and the EU resume issuing visas to Russian business people,” said head of the Russian-German chamber of commerce (AHK), Matthias Schepp. He called on Russia to do the same for Europeans.

Journeys could be possible with quarantines and testing programs in place, suggested Schepp.

Permitting business travel would have the effect of acting like a second stimulus package to help economies battered by coronavirus lockdowns, added the AHK chief.

His comments come as the second special flight for German business people touched down in Moscow.

EU officials began talks on Wednesday about lifting coronavirus travel bans for non-EU nations.

A criterion for travel could be the country’s epidemiological situation. Under this, travelers from countries such as Russia, Brazil and the USA are likely to remain banned travel destinations.  

The discussions are set to continue on Friday.

05:40 Officials in New Delhi say they are planning to carry out a mass door-to-door testing.

The city, with over 20 million inhabitants, is causing particular concern among authorities with over 70,000 out of the country’s 473,105 total cases.

Officials say they hope to complete the testing program by July 6.

New Delhi’s government has projected that cases in the capital area alone could expand to more than half a million by late July. It is considering taking over luxury hotels and stadiums to convert into field hospitals.

India has reported another daily virus case record, registering 16,922 new cases in the past 24 hours.

The health ministry said it has ramped up testing to more than 200,000 per day across the country.

Read more: India: Being blind during the coronavirus pandemic

05:15 The Australian state of Victoria has deployed ambulances and mobile test centers in a coronavirus testing “blitz” across the state’s 10 most effected suburbs.

“We have ambulances and other vans that will literally be at the end of people’s streets,” said Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews.

The state hopes to carry out around 100,000 tests over the next 10 days.

The tests will be free and Andrews urged residents to take them as a civic duty.

While numbers in Australia have been comparatively small on a global scale, Victoria has the largest number of cases in the country — accounting for 200 out of a country total of 270.

Victoria has reported 33 new cases in the past 24 hours, the highest daily number in more than two months.

04:45 China has confirmed 19 new cases of the coronavirus amid mass testing in Beijing.

The majority of the cases were in Beijing, with one case attributed to neighboring Hubei province, and five cases brought in by Chinese travelers from overseas, said the National Health Commission.

An outbreak in the capital this month saw 249 people infected, most of them with links to the city’s biggest wholesale market. Responding to the outbreak, authorities locked down some parts of the city and took 3 million test samples from citizens.

Read more: How has Taiwan kept its coronavirus infection rate so low?

04:15 Germany reported 630 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases says. The death toll rose by 13, bringing the country’s total to 8,927.

Here’s a look at how the virus has developed in Germany this week:

  • Saturday: 687 new cases, unclear new fatalities data
  • Sunday: 537 new cases, 3 new fatalities
  • Monday: 503 new cases, 10 new fatalities
  • Tuesday: 587 new cases, 19 new fatalities

03:32 Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD), the junior partners in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s governing coalition, appear to have soften their position on COVID-19 immunity certificates.

People would be entitled to such a certificate if they had been tested, Bärbel Bas, the deputy head of the SPD’s parliamentary faction, told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung newspaper. It is crucial, though that the certificates do not lead to a “two-tier society of people with immunity and those without,” she said.

Bas emphasized that COVID-19 immunity has not yet been proven, that it’s not certain whether those who have recovered from the virus can catch it again. Immunity certificates cannot, therefore, yet be issued. But she left open the possibility for them in the future.

Until now, the SPD has stanchly opposed immunity certificates or immunity passports. Their opposition prompted Health Minister Jens Spahn to shelve his immunity certificate plans, and deferred to the German Ethics Council.

The Council is set to discuss the issue for the first time on Thursday, although a final decision isn’t expected for some time.

02:42 Mexico has logged its second-highest daily virus death toll, with 947 new deaths recorded.

The highest death toll occurred on June 3 with 1,092 deaths.

The country’s new caseload has risen by around 5,000 per day for the past two weeks. Wednesday was no exception, with over 5,400 new cases recorded.

The actual number of COVID-19 cases is believed be much higher, considering Mexico’s low rate of testing.

Researchers predict that the coronavirus death toll in Latin America will rise to over 388,000 by October, with Mexico and hard-hit Brazil expected to account for two-thirds of fatalities.

02:15 As Germany grapples with outbreaks at slaughterhouses, and other European countries are pushing for more local food solutions, calls are growing for a re-think on the way we approach farming.

DW’s Environment team breaks down how the pandemic could usher in radical changes in the global food chain, from curbs on factory farming to a rise in urban gardening.

01:30 Peru’s government threatened to temporarily take over the country’s private healthcare clinics amid a dispute over fees for treating COVID-19 patients.

President Martín Vizcarra said the government “cannot wait indefinitely,” giving private clinics 48 hours to reach a deal or be taken over until the end of the pandemic. The haggling over a fair rate for coronavirus care came after several reports found private clinics were overcharging patients who needed ventilators and intensive care.

Over 264,000 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Peru since the outbreak emerged, while over 8,500 people have died.

00:50 Australia’s military will send 1,000 troops to Melbourne in an unprecedented move to contain the country’s only major coronavirus outbreak.

Defense Minister Linda Reynolds said that the troops would be sent “in the coming days” to the state of Victoria where Melbourne is located. Some 850 troops will help monitor international travelers being held in quarantine at hotels. Another 200 will provide medical and logistical support to COVID-19 testing facilities

The state recorded nearly 150 new coronavirus cases in the past week, with clusters emerging in Melbourne. The case numbers are low compared to other countries, but Australian officials are keen to avoid a second wave.

As the pandemic continues to hammer the global airline industry, Australian airline Qantas Airways announced it will cut at least 6,000 jobs out of its 29,000 employees. Another 15,000 staff will continue to be temporarily on hold until more flights resume.

0:05 The United States recorded more than 34,700 new COVID-19 cases, making it the country’s worst single-day jump in cases since April.

The US, currently the world’s worst-hit country, saw new cases peak in late April with some 36,400 in one day.

Cases are spiking in the states of Florida, Arizona, California, and Texas. The situation is particularly fraught in Florida, which broke its own record for new daily cases on Wednesday, logging over 5,500 new infections.

Hospital administrators and health care experts warned that hospitals in certain areas could soon be overwhelmed by the surge in cases. In the Texan city of Houston, intensive care unit beds are almost full.

00:00 Catch up on Wednesday’s coronavirus news here.

In reporting on the coronavirus pandemic, unless otherwise specified, DW uses figures provided by the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Coronavirus Resource Center in the United States. JHU updates figures in real-time, collating data from world health organizations, state and national governments, and other public official sources, all of whom have their own systems for compiling information.

Germany’s national statistics are compiled by its public health agency, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). These figures depend on data transmission from state and local levels and are updated around once a day, which can lead to deviation from JHU.

rs,see/rc (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)



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